Md. firms reporting solid growth But many have difficulty finding skilled workers

Economy

October 23, 1998|By Shanon D. Murray | Shanon D. Murray,SUN STAFF

Maryland businesses are reporting strong growth and increased optimism -- despite indications of a slowing national economy, according to a survey examining the state's business climate.

The survey of 250 companies by the Maryland Business Research Partnership shows that 62 percent of the companies experienced revenue growth during the third quarter, up from 57 percent during the second quarter.

"Maryland firms generally are not exporters of goods, and so are likely to be less impacted by recent international economic events," said Richard Clinch, author of the report and director of the partnership.

"That translates into healthier expectations for future revenue and employment growth," he said.

The report also shows that the percentage of firms anticipating employment growth jumped to 48 percent in the third quarter, up from 42 percent in the prior quarter.

On the downside, the report found that 65 percent of the businesses reported difficulty in finding skilled workers, the highest percentage ever reported by business climate survey.

That statistic is one of the most surprising findings of the report, Clinch said.

"Everyone's talking about the shortage of computer workers, but not the shortage in skilled trade workers like warehouse people, machinists and truck drivers. Those jobs are vital in Maryland," DTC he said. "Computer programming and biotechnology are key areas for Maryland, but they represent only a fraction of all employment."

The study also found that 90 percent of the businesses hired employees with only a high school education. Forty-three percent of the businesses complained that the workers were not sufficiently prepared for their jobs.

Pub Date: 10/23/98

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